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UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS BULLETIN
VOL. VI. NO. 23 MARCH 22, I90B
Entered Feb. 14, 1S02. at Orbana, 111., as second-class matter under act of Congress of July 16, 189*
Vol.. in No. 3 March 1909
The History of Cumulative Voting and Minority Represen-
tation in Illinois, 1870-1908
BLAINE F. MOORE
WITH A PREFACE BY
J. W. GARNER, Ph.D.
PRICE SO CENTS
Untwvsttj of snitnots
CJjf ^Unttirrsttg is>ttrt>tc0
Vol. mi No. 3 March 1909
The History of Cumulative Voting and Minority Represen-
tation in Illinois, 1870-1908
BLAINE F. MOORE
J. W. GARNER. PhD.
PRICE SO CENTS
By the University of Illinois
Preface by Professor J. W. Garner 5
I Introduction 8
II Adoption of the Cumulative System in Illinois 12
III The Degree of Minority Representation secured by trie
Cumulative System 16
IV Effect on Party Organization 27
V Practical Difficulties of the Cumulative System and its
Effect on the Legislative Personnel 36
VI Summary and Conclusion 46
Popular interest in the principle of minority representation
has slowly and steadily increased since its tirst application in
Denmark in 1855 and in England in 1867, and recent years have
seen the principle extended in practice to many parts of the world.
In 1889 it was introduced into -Japan contemporaneously with the
establishment of constitutional government. In the early nineties
it made its appearance in the Swiss Cantons of Ticino and Neu-
chatel from which it spread in succession to the Cantons of
Geneva, Zug, Solothurn, Berne, Friburg, Basel and Schwyz, being
applied in some cases to the election of the cantonal legislatures,
in others to the municipal councils. In 1899 it was introduced
into Belgium, in 1905 into Moravia; in 1900 into Finland and
Wurttemberg, in 1907 into Sweden and Tasmania and in 1908
into Cuba and Oregon. In the meantime the prinicple has had a
practical test under favorable conditions in the State of Illinois
through a period extending over nearly forty years.
The present paper, originally prepared for the Seminar in
political science in the University of Illinois, embodies the results
of an inquiry into the actual workings of the cumulative voting
system for the choice of representatives in the Legislature of Illi-
nois, an examination of the objections that have been urged
against the system in the form in which it exists and a consider-
ation of its effect upon the personnel of the Legislature and upon
the activity of the political parties in the nomination of candi-
Mr. Moore finds that in only three instances since the scheme
was put into operation has it failed to give the principal minority
party in each district representation, and, also, that with tliree
exceptions third parties have always been able to choose repre-
sentatives in each Legislature, the number usually ranging from
two to five members. Of course, the scheme does not secure exact
proportional but only minority representation, yet so far as the
two dominant parties are concerned, the representation which
each secures approximates fairly the principle of proportionality.
The minority party does not ordinarily secure undue representa-
tion, but owing to certain "mishaps" which are fully explained
by Mr. Moore, there have been some instances (twenty-four alto-
gether) in which the minority actually secured more than its
rightful share of representatives — a contingency which might
happen under any system of representation.
The system necessarily requires party control and super-
vision in determining the number of candidates to be nominated
by the two dominant parties in each district. Obviously, as Mr.
Moore shows, if each party should nominate three candidates in
each district, as is advocated by some reformers, though it would
give the voters a wide range of choice, it would necessarily result
in the destruction of the principle of minority representation and
the dominant party in each district would secure all three of the
representatives to be elected and the minority none. Tie points
out that if the law should require each party to nominate as
many candidates as there are places to be filled the minority party
to save itself would be forced to treat two of the candidates as
technical merely and would "plump" its votes on the third candi
date, otherwise it would fail to secure any representation at all.
The new primary law recognizes the practical necessity of party-
control by empowering the party committee in each district to
determine the number of candidates to be nominated by its party,
and the criticism which has been directed against this provision as
one which fosters machine control and bossism is not well founded
Mr. Moore clears the system of several objections that have
been urged against it and asserts that none of them or all of them
together are sufficient to condemn the system. Most of the evils
complained of would exist equally under any other system and
certainly the gerrymander would flourish as it does not under
the present method. The practical difficulties of voting and can-
vassing the returns under the present system are too inconsider-
able to constitute a real objection. The cumulative method un-
doubtedly secures what-its advocates intended it to accomplish,
namely, the legislative representation of the principal minority
party in the State, and this result has been secured without serious
practical difficulties. Whether, therefore, the system should be re-
tained is mainly, though not wholly, a question of the merits of
minority representation as a principle of representative govern-
J. W. GARNER,
Professor of Political Science.
University of Illinois.
December 9th, 1908.
The founders of the American Republic were thoroughly
imbued with the spirit of equal political rights to all, but in si
country so extensive and populous as the United States, direr!:
participation in government by each citizen was obviously impos-
sible. To avoid this difficulty and yet apply the theory to a prac-
tical government a representative democracy was formed. It
was soon apparent, however, that the scheme adopted secured only
partial representation inasmuch as officials were sometimes elected
by an actual minority of the voters and consequently large classes
had no authorized agent in the legislative councils. To remedy
this defect various plans were proposed, differing in details and
complexity, but which in general may be classified as the limit-
ed vote, the cumulative vote, the "free list," and preferential
The movement for representative reform was not accidental
but was the logical result of prevailing conditions and theories.
During the first half of the nineteenth century the various states
busied themselves with liberalizing their governments and prop-
erly distributing political power among the legislative, judicial
and executive departments. When this was accomplished to some
degree of satisfaction their attention was next turned to securing
better representation for minority parties and factions which had
greatly increased because of the wide extension of the elective
franchise about the middle of the last century. In England there
was a particular reason for advocating proportional representa-
tion, for when the number of voters was largely augmented in 1867,
the aristocratic and landed classes feared that they would be
entirely excluded from representation in the government unless
some form of minority representation should be provided. The
political leaders, however, were soon convinced that they had noth-
ing to fear from the newly made voters and consequently lost in-
terest in the reform.
While active agitation for representative reform began about
1865, its origin ran be traced farther back. In 1S14 Norway made
some provisions in its constitution for the representation of minor-
ity parties. During the discussion on the Reform I > ill in England
in 1832, minority representation was considered but received no
legal recognition. In the United States some of the states, where
the general ticket plan of election prevailed, were sending single
party delegations to Congress and in 1812 that body directed that
Representatives in Congress should be elected by the district
method, thus insuring better representation for both parties and
localities. In 1815 the Danish government adopted a plan of pro-
The year 1841 marks the beginning of a permanent literature
and systematic study of the subject. In that year appeared
Thomas Gilpin's work entitled: "On the Representation of Minor-
ities of Electors to Act With the Majority in Elected Assemblies,"
but the volume attracted little atteution at the time of its
publication. Ten years later James Garth .Marshall published
his "Majorities and Minorities: Their Relative Rights," a book
which contained the first printed account of the cumulative vote.
In 1859 Thomas Hare produced his noted volume, "The Election
of Representatives, Parliamentary and Municipal." John Stuart
Mill became an advocate of representative reform in 1865 and
popular interest in the scheme was now fairly well started.
In England the discussion crystallized into law in 1867 when
the limited vote so-called was adopted for parliamentary districts
returning ftliree members. In 1870 the members of the English
school boards were elected by the cumulative vote. The number
of places to be filled was comparatively large and the voters
manipulated their ballots to suit their individual tastes, which
inevitably resulted in confusion and inequalities. In the United
States, during the period of the bitter struggle in Congress follow-
ing the Civil War, the need of representative reform became evi-
dent for not only was the Congress then sitting representative of
Only one section of the country but fresh in the minds of the people
was the memory of a great war, hastened, if not brought <>ii, by the
act inn of governing bodies in which the radicals of both sections
predominated to the exclusion of a large body of conservatives.
In 1S(>7 ] and 1869 2 Mr. Buckalew of Pennsylvania proposed in
the Senate of the United States that the cumulative vote be ap-
plied to the election of Representatives in Congress. In 1S70 :!
and again in 1871* the subject was debated in Congress, but this
body was not inclined to make concessions to the Democratic
Although the various representative reform hills failed in
Congress more success was attained in the states. In ISfiT New
York used the limited vote in the election of delegates to a consti-
tutional convention. 5 A clause providing for minority representa-
tion in the state legislature was incorporated in the Illinois con-
stitution of 1870. The cumulative vote was applied to municipal
elections in Pennsylvania in 1871 6 and to Wilmington, North Caro-
lina, in 1872, 7 but in both cases the laws authorizing this were soon
repealed. In the latter year, in an attempt to break the power of
Tammany, the cumulative vote was provided for in a new charter,
for the city of New York, 8 but the Governor interposed his veto.''
Pennsylvania applied the limited vote in 1873 to the election of
certain judicial officers. By constitutional provisions the cumula-
tive vote has been applied to the election of directors in private
corporations in eleven states."' Although popular interest in the
'Congressional Globe 40th Congress. 1st Session, p. 513.
-Congressional Globe 40th Congress. 3rd Session, p. 320.
"Congressional Globe, 41st Congress, 2nd Session, p. 4735. et seq.
'Congressional Globe 42nd Congress, 2nd Session, pp. 63, 110.
"Session Laws, 1S67; ch. 194. p. 2S6.
"Session Laws, 1871 ; p. 283.
; Private Laws, Session 1871-72, p. 139.
"Proposed Changes. 1872. Art. II, Sec. 4.
a Public Papers of Governor John T. Hoffman. This message discusses at con-
siderable length the advantages and disadvantages of University representation.
"'111., Xeb.. Cal.. Penn., W. Va.. Miss.. Idaho, Kj\, N. Dak.. Montana. -Mo..
Common's "Proportional Representation," p. 264.
reform waned rapidly after about 1875 the movement has never
completely lost its vitality. Ohio 1 in 1884 and Michigan 2 in 1889
made a limited application of the principle of proportional repre-
sentation, hut in both cases the laws applying the theory were held
to he unconstitutional/'' In 1801 South Dakota rejected a proposed
constitutional amendment providing for minority representation
in the legislature. About the same time some of the Swiss cantons
provided for proportional representation and in L899 Belgium
adopted a modification of the Swiss plan. 4
That a theory which contains so much inherent justice failed
to receive wider application is due to a variety of causes, the most
important of which are the practical defects of the various plans
tried and the failure to protect them from abuse. Moreover, the
enactment of such a law involves the giving of large power to an
opposing minority and such self-sacrifices are not common in the
history of political parties.
In but two states, Illinois and Pennsylvania, lias the experi-
ment extended over a period of time sufficiently long to afford it
an opportunity to work out logical results. The constitution
of Pennsylvania, in a special provision fc" P'.il rl Iphia, provides
that in the election of city magistrates, ""No • shall vote for
more than two-thirds of the number of per? r to be elected when
more than one are to be chosen."' The eoustiirtion also states
that "Whenever two judges of the supreme co rt re to be chosen
for the same time of service, each voter shall vote for one only,
and when there are three to be chosen he shall vote for no more
than two."'' Although excellent judges have general!'
chosen, yet the limited vote seems to be regarded as > useless
complication and will probably be dropped at the first opportunity.
'Session Laws. 18S4, p. 121.
'Session Laws, 1889, p. 374.
3 State v. Conslantine. 42 Ohio, 437; Maynard v. Board of Canvasser;, 84
•Pasiuomie, 1S99, No. 509, p. 393.
Constitution of 1873. Art. 5, Sec. 12.
"Constitution of 1S73, Art. 5, Sec. 16.
Adoption of the Cumulative System in Illinois.
In Illinois the defects of the existing constitution, especially
the legislative provisions, were constantly becoming more appar-
ent to political leaders, and in 1862 an unsuccessful attempt was
made to remodel the organic law of the state. 1 As soon as the
Civil War was over constitutional reform was again considered,
and the question of calling a convention was referred to the people
for decision. Although there was practically no opposition the
indifference was so great that the proposition Avas carried by a
very small majority. Delegates were duly elected and the con-
vention met December 13, 1869. The assembly was probably the
ablest body that had ever met in the state, a large number of the
members having had extensive experience in public affairs. The
first week was consumed in organizing and on December 20th
the Standing Committees were announced. 2 One of these was
designated as the Committee of Electoral and Representative Re-
form, Joseph Medill of Chicago being chairman. The fact that
this committee included some of the best known and ablest men
in the assembly shows how important the convention considered
the need of representative reform. The_people at large, however,
judging from the small number of petitions sent in to the com-
mittee, took but little interest in the subject. A few
petitions proposing various plans of proportional representation
were received, and at least one remonstrance against the adoption
of any such innovations was presented. 3
On February 10th the committee made a report embodied in
five sections. The first provides for the ratio of senatorial repre-
sentation ; the second, that three times the number required for
a senatorial ratio should constitute a senatorial district, each of
'See 0. M. Dickerson "The Constitution of 1S62." University of Illinois
Studies, Vol. I, No. 9.
: Debates and Proceedings, constitutional convention. Vol. 1, p. 75.
3 Ibid, p. 703.
which should choose three senators. Similar provisions arc made
for representatives and representative districts. Sections three
and four are "floater" clauses, providing that in case any district )
should have a fraction of population above the ratio so large that
being multiplied by the number of regular sessions of the legisla-
ture in a decade the result should be equal to one or more ratios,
that district should elect an extra representative or senator in
those years in which the fraction so multiplied would produce a
The fifth section states that "In all elections of Senators and
Representatives each qualified voter be entitled to as many votes
as there are Senators or Representatives to be elected by the
same constituency and may distribute them (or equal fractions
thereof), equally or unequally among the candidates or concen-
trate them upon one, at his option; and the candidate highest in
votes shall be declared elected."'
The committee's recommendations were taken up in the con-
vention on May 6th and the chairman then offered a substitite for
the previous report. This substitute is much shorter than the
original provision and consists of but three sections. The first
provides that the apportionment for the Senate shall be made
every ten years, beginning with 1S71 ; the second, that the House
of Representatives shall consist of three times the number of the
members of the Senate, and that three Representatives shall be
elected in each senatorial district.
Section three contains the cumulative voting provision and
is as follows: "In all elections of Representatives aforesaid each
qualified voter may cast as many votes for one candidate as there
are Representatives to.be elected, or may distribute the same, or
equal parts thereof, among the candidates as he may see fit; and
the candidate highest in votes sliall be declared elected." 2
The report also recommends that these sections be submitted
'Debates and Proceedings, Constitutional Convention. Vol. 1, p. 561.
2 lbi(l Vol. 2. p. 1726. Vt
to the people as a distinct proposition, separate from the main
body of the constitution, for their rejection or approval.
It will be seen from the above that cumulative voting was to
be restricted to election of members of the lower House of the
legislature instead of applying to both Houses as in the original
report. Also the "floater" idea was entirely abandoned.
The argument accompanying the report is a summary of the
theories of the times regarding minority representation. The
first part is devoted to a review of the general theory of the sub-
ject, pointing out the injustice and inequalities of the usual ma-
jority rule and showing how unrepresentative most deliberative
bodies really are. An argument is then presented for the particul-
ar system recommended. It is asserted that obviously single
member districts could give no opportunity for anything but ma-
jority rule, while two-member districts might easily afford the
minority undue power, hence the smallest district that would
make minority representation possible is a three-member one.
The districts should be as small as possible consistent with the
ends sought so as to make the members representative of locali-
ties and also do as little violence as possible to existing customs.
The argument which applies especially to local conditions,
and the most effective one in the entire report, is that referring
to sectional representation. It is stated that since 1854, with few
exceptions, all the Senators ami Representatives in the northern
half of Illinois had been of one political party, while the legislators
from the other half of the state, with equally few exceptions, had
been of the opposing party. In round numbers, 100,000 Republi-
cans living south of the state capital had been practically disfran-
chised and almost as many Democrats in the northern districts had
suffered from the same discrimination. It is pointed out that if
alternate districts throughout the state were Republican and
Democratic conditions would not be so bad as where an entire
section was wholly under the domination of one or the other party,
but such was distinctly not the case. An examination of statistics
showed also that in the previous legislature a minority of
electors had elected a majority of representatives in that body.
The freedom and power of the voter is also emphasized in
the report. Under the ordinary election method, when more than
one official is to he chosen for an office, if a voter objects to any
one candidate, and refuses to vote for him, he simply loses a por-
tion of his privilege. Under the cumulative method, or "free bal-
lot," as it was called, he may transfer his entire vote to other
candidates and hence lose nothing. The argument concludes
with a glowing account of the benefits which would result from
the proposed reform. "The adoption of this great reform
would do much towards abating the baneful spirit of partisan
animosity and removing the temptations and opportunities which
now exist for the corrupt use of money at elections. * * *
It will also tend powerfully to relieve the voter from
the despotism of party caucuses, and at the same time
constrain party leaders to exercise more care in selecting candi-
dates for lawmakers. There is nothing which will more effec-
tually put an end to packing conventions than arming the voter
with the three-shooter or triple ballot, whereby he may fire
'plumpers' for the candidate of his choice and against those of his
aversion. It will increase the usefulness of the legislature by im-
proving the membership. It will enable the virtuous citizens to
elect the ablest and purest men in their midst and secure to the
legislative councils a large measure of popular confidence and
After briefly considering the report, the convention, by a
large majority, adopted all its sections, but as it was distinctly
understood that this was simply referring the question to the
people the vote did not reflect the sentiment of the convention nor
was there any debate on the subject which would indicate the
individual opinions of the members. At the popular election the
people, by 09,022 affirmative and 70,080 negative votes, adopted
■Debates and Proceedings, Constitutional Convention, Vo'. 1, \i. 5G3.
the scheme. The advocates of the measure rejoiced that Illinois
was thus the first state to iuaugurate this democratic and bene-
ficient reform in the choice and construction of the legislature,
and was thus to stand as the pioneer in a movement which they
thought would strengthen aud purify our political system and
which would eventually be universally applied. Across the At-
lantic the great "London Times," in its issue of anuary 13, 1870,
in discussing the subject, said: "And in Illinois, and what Illinois
thinks today the Union will think tomorrow, the discussion is
passing from theory to practical approval."
The Degree of Minority Representation Secured p.y the Cumu-
In the preceding chapter the conditions prevailing at the time
of the adoption of the cumulative system of voting in Illinois and
the advantages which the supporters of the measure promised,
have been described. It is now proposed to consider the actual
results of more than thirty-five years' practical test of the plan
and to ascertain, as far as possible, to what extent the method
has justified the expectations of its advocates.
A question that logically arises at once is, does the cumulative
voting system always give in each district a minority party repre-
sentation? The answer to this question, with a few rare excep-
tions which will be noted later, can be given definitely
and decisively in the affirmative. In every senatorial district in
the state, with the few exceptions already mentioned, at least two
parties and occasionally three have been represented in the lower
House of the Legislature. The time-honored and usual practice is
for the majority party to have two representatives and the minor-
ity one, with occasionally a third party candidate defeating one
of cither the two principal party nominees. Although there have
been biennial elections in each of the fifty-one districts since 1872 1
under the present constitution, in but three instances have all
three representatives been the regular nominees of one party. 2
In several other instances the Republicans have had nominally
three members but in these cases one or two of the representatives
ran on independent tickets as Independent Republicans, and
were not regular nominees of the party. 3 This was especially true
of the elections in 1874 for the Twenty-ninth Assembly, when in
many districts the Democrats nominated no candidates and helped
elect the independents.
The figures show that the cumulative method has in prac-
tically all cases given a minority party representation, but I his
does not necessarily imply that it gives exact proportional repre-
sentation. The originators of the scheme did not assert that it
'See Mss. p. 16a.
= These instances are: District No. 38 in the 36th General Assembly (1888-
1890) when the Democratic party had three representatives. Districts Nos. 5
and 10 in the 40th Assembly (1896-98) where there were three Republicans in
3 The following table indicates districts and time of such occurrences:
1874 — 29th General Assembly District 15, 1 regular and 2 Independent
1874 — 29th General Assembly District 20, 2 regular and 1 Independent
1874 — 29th General Assembly District 23, 2 regular and 1 Independent
1874 — 29th General Assembly District 28, 2 regular and 1 Independent
1874 — 29th General Assembly District 29, 2 regular and 1 Independent
1874 — 29th General Assembly District 30, 2 regular and 1 Independent
1874 — 29th General Assembly District 32, 1 regular and 2 Independent
1874 — 29th General Assembly District 46, 1 regular and 2 Independent
1886 — 35th General Assembly District 16, 2 regular and 1 Independent
would secure proportional representation to any degree of exact-
ness but contented themselves with calling the plan minority rep-
resentation. It is a mistake to suppose that the system is based
primarily on the proportional idea yet so far as the two dominant
parties are concerned it has led to a proportional representation
approaching mathematical exactness, as is indicated by Table I.
Presidential years only have been used, for they give a more re-
liable index of the real party strength since in the "off" years
party lines are frequently ignored because of local issues or fights
and also because the interest in the few state officers to be elected
is not sufficient to bring out the full vote.
Comparison of Legislative Vote and Representation of The Democratic and Re
publican Parties in Presidential Years
"=3 s "£
a " s?
Q s ?
■2 = |
P5 « S.
Ratio of Demo-
cratic to Repub-
difficult for two assertions to be more widely contradictory. One
is the statement made by a civic reformer prophesying the results
of one of his favorite projects, the other was made after that
scheme had been tried for thirty-five years. While the first, being
but a prophecy, can prove nothing, neither do the latter empiric
dogmatic statements convince.
One of the questions contained in the letter of inquiry
was, "Does the system (cumulative voting) increase or di-
minish the power of the party machine?" Eighty-four definite
answers were received to this question. Nine asserted that
the power was diminished, thirty-five maintained that the
system had no effect on party organization, while forty as-
esrted, and most of these were very certain as to the cor-
rectness of the answer, that the influence of the party machine
was greatly increased. It is interesting, if not important, to note
that of the nine who thought party power was diminished, seven
are members of the present legislature and in general there is
considerable variation between the answers of politicians and
others who are but observers or critics of political affairs.
One strong evidence of strict party control is the limited num-
ber of real candidates nominated, especially in the Chicago dis-
tricts. It is true that there are frequently seven or eight candi-
dates for the three places at each election, but usually there are
but three nominees of the two dominant parties combined and
nomination thus becomes practically equivalent to an election.
Other candidates represent various minor parties and are fully
aware that ordinarily they have no chance of election. The usual
rule is for the majority party to nominate two, the principal
minority one, and this custom is practically universal so far
as the former party is concerned. Prior to 1S90 three can-
didates were occasionally nominated by one party, but this
happened only in districts where the majority party was un-
usually strong and had some hopes of electing three members; or,
what was more usual, the three candidates were the result of
county factional controversies where two or more counties are
combined in one district. In such cases it sometimes happened that
the larger county demanded and secured both regular nominees
and the smaller county, for the sake of revenge, would adopt the
suicidal policy of putting a candidate of its own in the field. So
far as we are aware, no majority party has ever nominated three
candidates in order to give its constituents a greater choice at
The number of candidates to be nominated, ordinarily no
more than can be elected, is determined by the party leaders and
the nominations have been made in caucuses and conventions
which are the creations of the party and where the party cliques
and professional politician usually have complete control. 1 Un-
der such conditions and considering the shrewdness with which
party leaders have always taken advantage of every opportunity
to build up a compact organization, can there be any doubt but
that the "machine" will have a firm grasp on legislative elections?
In Cook County, which has nineteen districts and conse-
quently fifty-seven Representatives to elect, there have been but
from 59 to 61 candidates presented by the combined Republican
and Democratic parties. The rule of having but three candidates
presented by the two political parties is almost universally ad-
hered to in this county, though in at least one district both in 1904
and 1906 the majority party w«s strong enough to elect all three
Representatives but presented only two candidates. 2 This failure
of a party to grasp power evidently Avithin its reach is strongly
indicative of a "gentleman's agreement" between the leaders of the
two parties regarding the division of spoils. In the districts out-
side of Cook County the appearance of four candidates of the two
'Under the new primary law which went into force July 1, 1908. the party
committee in each Senatorial district is empowered to determine in advance of
the primaries the number of nominations to be made by the party in its district.
Thus what was heretofore a mere understanding among the party leaders now
becomes an official determination by the party organization, in pursuance of law.
which elect few or no candidates. In the election of 1906, the
Prohibitionist, Socialist and Labor parties had in the aggregate
348,139 votes (not voters) , which was about fifteen per cent of the
total vote, yet all these combined elected but three members of the
House. In Cook County alone the same year 183,178' votes were
cast which secured no representation whatever. These state-
ments simply establish what has already been asserted, that
the cumulative voting plan does not claim to be primarily a pro-
portional representation scheme, but a minority party representa-
tion device and the tables and figures cited above indicate how
far the system gives a minority party representation and to what
extent it gives, or fails to give, proportional representation to all
While it is true that minor parties 1'eceive no great benefit
from the scheme, the defect may not be really so great in prac-
tice as it appears. The principle of government by parties is firmly
fixed in American politics and the few third party members of
legislative bodies are not taken into the councils of either of the
dominant parties and, except in the unusual cases where they hap-
pen to hold the balance of power, they are given but little consider-
ation and have but little opportunity to exert any influence.
Moreover, where a large number of parties and factions are
represented, a legislative body almost inevitably degenerates
into a mere debating society and hence legislates with diffi-
culty. This is well illustrated by the Twenty-ninth Assembly,
when in the Senate there were 24 Republicans, 19 Democrats and
9 Independents, Liberals, etc. In the House, the Republicans had
69 members, the Democrats 42 and there were 41 Independents
and others difficult to classify. 2 The proceedings of the Assembly
were marked by disgraceful scenes, personal combats and finally
'Cook County figures from statement prepared by Legislative Voters League.
-Figures taken from Moses': Illinois: Historical and Statistical, p. 829.
These figures do not entirely harmonize with newspaper accounts due probably
to the difficulty of classifying some members.
it adjourned with but a few results to show for its labors. Theo-
retically it may be very proper and just for each faction to be rep-
resented in exact proportion to its voting strength, but experience
scarcely bears out the practical expediency of such a theory.
Since at legislative elections each voter is allowed "to multi-
ply himself three times" at the polls, the 370,000* votes cast in the
state securing but three legislators represent approximately 123,-
400 voters and the 183,000 ineffective votes in Cook County about
61,000. Iu this connection it is only necessary to point out that
the same year, in the state elections, 370,333 votes were cast for
Superintendent of Public Instruction and 407,039 votes for Treas-
urer, which elected no official and were entirely lost or wasted.
In Cook County in the same year, sixteen out of the nineteen dis-
tricts elected Senators and 121,239 votes failed to secure repre-
sentation. Had elections been held in all districts aud the ratio of
ineffective votes remained the same for the three districts as in the
other sixteen there would have been about 144,000 votes lost in the
county, as compared with 01,000 lost in representative elections.
| Although the cumulative method does not secure exact pro-
portional representation for all parties it has at least the virtue of
approximating it much more closely than does the ordinary ma-
jority system and with fas less waste of votes than usually
It is evident from a consideration of Table I, page 18, that
where the system of minority representation prevails, gerryman-
dering is largely shorn of its viciousness. When some minority
party is practically certain of securing at least one member out
of three in each district, the gross inequalities and injustice that
frequently prevail as the result of the gerrymander must be great-
ly reduced. In Massachusetts in 1892 it required 16,560 Demo-
crats to elect one State Senator and only 6,182 Republicans to
accomplish the same result. In other words, one Republican
'This includes 22,269 scattering votes not included in the Prohibition, Social-
istic and Labor vote previously given.
equaled two and two-thirds Democrats. In 1894 Democratic
members of the lower House of the General Assembly of New York
received an average of 21,783 votes and the Republicans 6,341. In
Michigan the same year, using the vote for Governor as a basis, the
Republicans with 237,215 votes elected 99 members of the lower
House of the legislature while the Democrats with 130,823 votes
secured but one. In Ohio in 1892 one Republican vote for legisla-
tor was equal to nearly two and one-fourth Democratic votes. 1 In
Illinois iu 1906 it required 9,089 Republican and 35,889 Dem-
ocratic votes to elect a state Senator, while for the House,
with the cumulative method, in the same year, 12,970 Repub-
lican and 14,268 Democratic votes elected a Representative.
The apportionment of Illinois was made in 1901 when the
Republicans had a majority in both Houses and they were
probably as keenly alive to party advantages as any body of
legislators and that they succeeded in discriminating against the
opposition is shown by the inequalities in the senatorial vote.
While the House vote shows some variation and can scarcely be
regarded as ideal, nevertheless it has none of those glaring in-
equalities so frequently prevalent as the result of the inherent in-
justice of the majority system combined with the consummation
of political art in juggling district boundary lines.
The constitution provides that "In all elections of Represent-
atives aforesaid each qualified voter may cast as many votes for
one candidate as there are Representatives to be elected or may
distribute the same in equal parts thereof, among the candidates
as he shall see fit." 2 Leaving the voter really free, without the re-
strictions of party discipline, to cast these three votes as he sees
fit might easily lead to an enormous waste of votes by "plumping"
on one candidate, thus giving him far more votes than necessary
to elect, while a minority by judiciously distributing its votes
"Figures for Mass., N. Y.. Michigan, Ohio, compiled from statistics given in
Common's Proportional Representation, pp. 65-67.
2 Article IV, section 7.
might elect two candidates and secure more than its just share of
r-k is frequently asserted by the opponents of the cumulative
method that by means of it minority parties do often secure undue
representation. Whether this assertion is correct or not depends
very largely upon one's view regarding the rights of minorities.
If, as asserted by some violent partisans, the minority has few or
no rights that must be respected by the majority, and that since
the majority party alone is responsible for policies or legislation,
this party should have a free hand, then the cumulative vote does
give a minority party excessive representation. If, however, the
more sane and just assumption is made that a minority has certain
rights which a majority is ethically bound to respect and that the
minority is entitled to about the same ratio of representation in
the legislative body as it bears to the whole body politic, there is
still some question as to whether the minority does not secure
more representation than it justly deserves. The possibility of
this may be illustrated mathematically by tlie following hypothet-
ical case. The majority in a district casts 18,000 votes and the
minority 16,000. A and B are majority and C and D are minority
candidates. A, for some reason, attracts more than his share of
votes and receives 11,000, leaving 7,000 for B. The minority can-
didates run more evenly and each receives 8,000 votes. The result
manifestly is that a faction, while casting an actual minority of
the total vote, has elected two out of three members. This is a
possible undesirable condition, but one which actually occurs so
seldom that it does not constitute a very formidable objection.
Such inequalities are found occasionally but always in districts
where the two parties are of nearly equal voting strength. In
some cases the defect has been the result of "plumping," but fre-
quently such miscarriages occur in districts so close that a few
votes either way would change the result of the election.
Table III indicates the districts in which such mishaps have
occurred and the vote in each case.
Table oe Districts in which a Minority Party has Elected a
Majority of Representatives.
x 12, 682
x 12, 429
x 13, 724
x indicates the successful candidates in each case.
■~fTwill be seen that there have been twenty-four cases in which
the minority clearly had an undue share of representation. In
four cases (Nos. 3, 15, 22, 23) this was caused by over conserva-
tism of the party managers or by inaccurate estimation by the
domi mintjuirty of its voting strength, as shown by its failure to
nominate more than one candidate. In six instances (Nos. 1, 8,
9, 11, 14, 20) the contest was so very close and such a small num-
ber of votes and a yet smaller number of voters would have
turned the scale that a party which thus lost a representa-
tive could have but little ground for a complaint of injus-
tice. In one instance (No. 4) the majority failed to elect
its quota because it had three candidates in the held. In
the remaining fourteen cases there is evidence of "plumping" to
a greater or less extent. This was sometimes caused by the coni-
parativly great personal popularity of one candidate, sometimes
because one was backed by an aggressive "machine," but more fre-
quently where two or more counties were joined to make up a dis-
trict one county "knifed" a candidate from another and "plumped"
for the "home" man, thus getting local revenge at the expense of
the party and fair representation.
Table III covers a period of 18 elections in 51 districts, the
minority securing a majority of representatives in about 2% per
cent of the total number of elections. Whether due to "plumping"
or other causes the proportion of "mishaps" is small and the sys-
tem has so seldom been subverted in such a manner as to defeat
the will of the majority that there can be no serious accusation
against the cumulative method in this regard.
It has been held that because of the peculiar method of elect-
ing representatives the party carrying the state elections may fail
to secure the majority in the legislature to which it is entitled.
The example cited is that of the year 1890, when the Democrats,
for the first time in years, secured the small number of state offi-
cers elected that fall. In the Senate the Republicans had 27 and
the Democrats 24 members. In the House there were 73 Republi-
cans, 77 Democrats and 3 Farmers' Alliance members, the latter
thus holding the balance of power on joint ballot. The above fig-
ures show that so far as the House is concerned the Democrats
did have a small majority and the failure to secure a majority on
joint ballot was due to the non-representative character of the
Senate, since of the 26 Senators who held over 16 were Republi-
Partisans are inclined to assert that great harm may be done
the majority by a minority securing undue representation at cer-
tain critical times. This is most apparent when a United States
Senator is to be elected and the classical example given is the
Senatorial election of 1877. In the elections of 1876 the
Republicans cast for President 278,232 votes and the Democrats
258,601. In the legislature which assembled in 1877 as the result
of the fall elections, there were in the Senate 21 Republicans, 22
Democrats and 8 Independents. In the House the Republicans
counted 79, the Democrats 67 and 7 Independents, thus giving a
small faction the balance of power on joint ballot. The Inde-
pendents clung obstinately to their Senatorial candidate (Judge
David Davis) and finally the Democratic vote was transferred to
him, thus giving the required majority, and the Republicans failed
to secure an office they claimed was justly theirs. While such an
occurrence is unfortunate, it is simply an illustration of the occa-
Bional extraordinary influence of a small faction holding the bal-
ance of power. This may and does happen under any system of
election and is not a defect peculiar to the cumulative system.
Another objection to minoritj' representation is that in case
of the death or resignation of a House member the majority party
would elect the new member of that district regardless of the
politics of the ex-member. In exceptional cases such as the election
of a United States Senator, when the vote is close and party lines
tightly drawn, this might give a party a majority to which it is not
justly entitled and which might be of considerable importance.
In many legislatures in Illinois vacancies have been caused by
death or resignation, yet no great injustice has ever been worked
in filling these and the likelihood of such events causing party dis-
aster is so remote as to be scarcely worthy of consideration. 1
Effect on Party Organization.
An investigation of the practical workings of cumulative
voting is difficult, since with the exception of the bare facts
'What has actually happened has been exactly the reverse of the above. In
1885 at the death of a member of the House, Senator Logan by consummate
political skill secured the election of a Republican member from a strongly
Democratic district, and was, as a result, elected to succeed himself as United
to be derived from official statistics, there is little information
on the subject. The history of the scheme is contemporaneous his-
tory and it is not easy to determine what has been accomplished
by a movement still in progress. Many of the facts must be sought
from individuals still in active life and in order to supplement
statistical information, a list of questions was sent to members of
the present legislature, state officials, editors of some of the more
important newspapers of the state, individuals who are active in
civic reforms and a few other prominent citizens. The tabulation
of the answers obtained will appear in this and following sections.
In a preceding section appears the following quotation from
the report of the Committee on Electoral Reform to the constitu-
"It (minority representation) will also tend powerfully to
relieve the voter from the despotism of party caucuses and at the
same time constrain party leaders to exercise more care in select-
ing candidates for law-making. There is nothing which will more
effectually put an end to the practice of packing conventions than
arming the voter with the three-shooter or triple ballot power,
whereby he may fire 'plumpers' for the candidate of his choice
and against those of his aversion." In other words, the cumula-
tive vote would deal a death blow to party bossism. In a recent
report issued by the Legislative Voters' League of Chicago ap-
pear these statements: "By it (minority representation) the peo-
ple of Illinois have lost control of their Legislature," and "Minor-
ity representation has been one of the most vicious acts ever
placed upon the statute books;" "The candidates nominated and
elected under. the present system are in most instances merely
errand boys and messengers for the party boss." 1 It would be
'But compare the following from the reports of this same organization:
"The things which have distinguished this Legislature are the high character
of a majority of its members. . . ." "We are prepared to state that it is an ab-
solute fact that a large majority of the members of the 44th General Assembly
.ire honest and patriotic citizens" and various kindred statements.
Absolute conclusions cannot be drawn from the above table
for any one year because of the fact that but half of the Senate
is renewed at any one election. Hence, there are at every session
50 per cent of "holdovers" in the Senate who may or may not
represent the present majority party in their respective districts,
and this may operate to prevent the Senate from being as repre-
sentative as the House. As a whole the table indicates bow nearly
each House has come to representing the prevailing political opin-
ion through a series of years. It will be observed that, except in
one instance (1884) when the two parties approximated pro-
portional representation in both Houses, the lower House
comes much nearer indicating the relative strength of the two
dominant parties than does the Senate. The variation in the
House in 1872 is due, partially at least, to the fact that the voters
were not familiar with the scheme and the parties were not organ-
ized to meet the new conditions and take advantage of them. The
variation in 1904 is due largely to an abnormal Presidential vote
and the proportion of members in the House probably more nearly
represents actual party strength than does the Presidential vote.
In all other years the percentage of votes cast corresponds fairly
closely to the percentage of members of the party in the House.
The Senate, however, shows a wide variation. In 1888, 1896, and
again in 1904, the minority party had less than half the number
of Senators it was entitled to as compared with the majority party,
while all the years (1884 excepted) show a large discrepancy, the
majority, as is to be expected, always having more members than
its just proportion. In this connection it should be remembered
that Senators and Representatives are elected from the same dis-
It is mathematically evident that any party which is able to
poll more than one-fourth of the votes in a district may, by
"plumping," that is, casting all three votes for one man, elect a
Representative. That a comparatively small faction can thus
elect a member presumably would operate for the benefit of third
parties, but as a matter of fact these minor parties have had but
few representatives in the House. The total vote which they have
cast in the state as a whole has been quite large, yet it seldom
happens that any minor party has more votes than the weaker of
the two large ones in any one district. However, with the excep-
tions of 1872, 1892, and 1900, third party men have been in every
legislature, five in the House iu 1901-06, and one or two in each
of the other years.
Table I shows to what extent the cumulative vote affords pro-
portional representation when only the two dominant parties are
considered. Table II gives the total legislative vote, the vote by
parties and the actual and proportional representation of each
party in the legislature elected in 1906.
Illinois Legislature, 1906
Vote for rep-
Opponents of the cumulative method have called attention
to the large number of votes cast in the state by the minor parties
great parties is not so unusual but the custom <»f having four or
more nominees is by no means universal. In 10 of these 32 dis-
tricts in 1906, the two dominant parties nominated four candi-
dates for the three positions. In 1904 in the same districts
four candidates were nominated in but eight of them; in 1002
four candidates were nominated in but seven districts. In 1000,
under the apportionment of 1893 in which there were 36 districts
outside of Cook County, 20 districts had four or more candidates
of the two main parties in the field; in 1808, 20 districts and in
1806, 20 districts; in 1894, 29 districts.
It appears from the above figures that the voters of the
minority party in certain districts have had some choice of candi-
dates at the election. It will also be seen that there is no uniform
rule governing the action of the minority in regard to nominating
two candidates but there is a very evident and material decrease
in the number of four-candidate districts in the three elections
since 1900. Whether this is merely accidental or whether it is
a permanent tendency cannot at present be definitely determined.
Whenever there are two candidates on the same ticket and but one
can be elected there is obviously an excellent prospect for an intra-
party fight. The country districts are tiring of taking chances
of wrecking the party by internal strife with no prospect of gain-
ing any greater representation than if the party leaders took the
matter in hand and nominated no more than could probably be
elected. Because of these conditions the tendency apparent since
1900 to reduce the number of candidates will probably continue.
A study of election statistics reveals little or nothing regard-
ing party discipline. In some districts where there are four can-
didates and naturally each nominee of the minority party will
induce as much "plumping" for himself as possible, the equal ity
of the vote would seem to indicate an unquestioning obedience to
the party exhortation not to "plump," but to vote one and one-half
votes for each candidate. In other cases "plumping" does appear
but it is impossible to tell whether this is due to a voters' rebellion
against party domination or whether it is an indication of the
power of the party bosses, since it might be the result of the latter
using their influence to elect a weak candidate.
Such a scheme as minority representation and cumulative
voting must automatically increase party control- Several thou-
sand voters coming to the polls eavh with three votes to distribute
as he sees fit, without a certain amount of party supervision, can
lead to nothing but confusion, injustice, and misrepresentation.
Some popular candidate might receive a large share of the votes
while two others, a majority of those to be elected in this case,
might be selected by a comparatively few ;votes cast for each. There
would inevitably be such a waste of votes and unfair representa-
tion that the people would demand, or at least acquiesce in, the
dictation of party managers in order to prevent such useless and
The undesirable conditions described above are not a mere
supposition of what might happen but specific instances can be
cited of the disaster attending cumulative voting elections without
party organization among the mass of the people. The best illustra-
tions are the somewhat notorious School Board elections in Eng-
land in 1870 already mentioned, when in some of the districts as
many as fifteen members were to be elected and each elector, as in
Illinois, had as many votes as there were paces to be filled. In Man-
chester there were fifteen members to be elected. "Manchester is
famous for two things — first, the fervor of its Protestantism : sec-
ond, the number, organization and strength of its working classes.
Rut at this election two Roman Catholics were brought in at the
head of the poll, one of them receiving nearly 20,000 more votes
than any Protestant candidate and no working class candidate,
of whom there were seven, being elected at all." 1 In Marylebone,
a district of London, the favorite candidate received 47, .858 votes
and the next in the list had only 1.3,404. In Finsbury, another
district of London, the highest number received by one candidate
'Dutcher, Minority Representation, p 72.
was 27,858 and the next highest but 10,700. In Birmingham the
fifteen .successful candidates were voted for by about 18,800
voters, while 10,100' lost their votes on unsuccessful candidates —
a much greater percentage of non-representation than usually
prevails in the single vote method. If specific instances are neces-
sary to prove what appears an almost axiomatic truth — the futil-
ity of attempting an election with the cumulative vote without
party organization and leaders able to control that organization,
the English school board elections furnish some very instructive
While there can be no doubt but that a scheme of cumulative
voting, because of inherent peculiarities, will create a demand for
a strong party organization, this does not necessarily condemn
the system nor does it necessarily imply that the members of the
various legislatures of the state have been "machine" men in the
opprobrious sense in which that term has come to be used. How-
ever, legislative conditions in the state have not been altogether
satisfactory, to put it mildly, and the records of some of the legis-
latures have not been ideal. Granting, for the sake of argument,
that all the many accusations made against the legislature in the
past few years are true, it would appear that the cumulative
voting system has been more sinned against than sinning. Admit-
ting all the charges, there is no evidence anywhere nor any anal-
ogy from which conclusions can be drawn which would warrant
any belief other than that the "machine" would be just as corrupt
and have just as complete control as it now has if the cumulative
vote had never been used. An investigation of the legislatures of
New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Kansas, Oregon — in fact, almost
any state selected at random, will show that other states suffer
from exactly the same political "boss" evils of which Illinois
complans. The sins of the latter state's legislature seem to be
those of omission rather than commission. There have been vexa-
tious delays in securing legislation made necessary by the rapid
advance of the state, but there have been few or no charges of
'Dutcher, Minority Representation, 69-74.
positive corruption such as are not altogether infrequent in other
The same organization which calls the cumulative voting
system the "most vicious piece of legislation ever placed on the
statute books" also says : "These two measures illustrate how the
organizations of the Senate and House work hand in hand. They
divide the responsibility — one kills one bill and the other an-
other." 1 In other words, the Senate is as bad as the House and
yet the Senate has never been tainted with the cumulative vote.
Also in this state there was no cumulative voting prior to 1872.
and surely the records of some of these earlier legislatures are
nothing of which to boast. So greatly did the early law-making
bodies abuse their power that one of the principal reasons for call-
ing a constitutional convention in 1848 and again in 1862 was to
limit legislative discretion. It is not neeessai'y here to describe
the "internal improvement" policy, the oppressive state debt,
attempts at repudiation, the passage of questionable private bills
and the long, dreary list of legislative shortcomings, but it is
doubtful if the later legislatures can equal the unenviable records
of many of their early predecessors.
• As might be expected the worst complaint comes from Chi-
cago and it is here that the cumulative system has been most
abused. This is only one of numerous examples of the inability
of municipalities to govern themselves successfully. Under pres-
ent conditions any system, no matter how ideal, would probably
go amiss in Chicago, though on the whole it has been better gov-
erned than most of the large cities. If there are at present in
Chicago but 59-61 real candidates to fill 57 positions, under the
one-member district and single-vote the city would probably be
so gerrymandered with ward lines for district boundaries that
there would be no more real candidates than at present. The
agitation in Chicago against the cumuative system is only an-
'Legislative Voters' League, Preliminary Report on. the 45th General As-
other indication of the tendency of the cities persistently to at-
tribute their misgovernment to the constitution and to demand a
change here rather than place it on the electorate, where it be-
longs — in other words, an attempt to dodge the real issues by
trying to reform the constitution instead of public sentiment.
The above is written with no intention of either defending or
condemning the state legislatures, but rather to clear the cumu-
lative voting system of certain charges of which it is not altogether
guilty. It would be useless to deny that the cumulative vote re-
quires strict party discipline and that in this system the political
"boss' found ready made a means of exercising his control, but all
evidence tends to show that if such menus had not been furnished
he would have found methods of his own to accomplish the same
result. It is, of course, a very negative sort of a recommenda-
tion to say that a system is no worse than others bat, so far as the
evils of excessive party control is concerned, that is the most that
can be said for the cumulative system as actually applied in this
state. Bu1 it should be borne in mind that these evils are not all
due to cumulative voting per se, but rather to abuses of the sys-
tem, and here is really the heart of the whole question. As the
scheme has worked out in practice legislative nominations have
become practically equivalent to election and the evil is of course
that these nominations are largely controlled by a limited num-
ber of party leaders. If it can be freed of its abuses and allowed
to work out its legitimate results, minority representation in Illi-
nois lias much to commend it. But if these abuses cannot be
prevented it is difficult to see how the party's control of legisla-
tive nominations can be removed- The possible remedies for these
practical evils will be considered in a later section.
Practical Difficulties of the Cumulative System and Its
Effect on the Legislative Personnel.
When the advocates of electoral reform were busy formulat-
ing schemes of minority representation they had no difficulties in
devising theories that would afford such representation with
mathematical exactness. The real difficulty lay in making these
methods so simple that the ordinary voter could exercise his privi-
lege intelligently and the returning boards tabulate results read-
ily and accurately. The Committee on Electoral Reform in the
constitutional convention also struggled with this problem and
abandoned their first device as too complicated. The plan finally
recommended was the simplest the committee could devise, but
even then it was feared there would be difficulty in voting and
counting the votes. As a matter of fact, as often happens when-
ever any new system of voting is put into operation, there was at
first some difficulty at the polls, but this grew less as the voters
became more familiar with the plan. Later, when the Australian
ballot was introduced, more obstacles were encountered. To
obtain additional information on this subject the following ques-
tion was included in the list sent out by the writer : "Are there any
practical difficulties in voting, counting votes, etc?" Of the nine-
ty-three answers received to this question, sixty asserted that
there were no difficulties at all, or, if any, they were so slight as
to be of no real importance. Thirty-three answered that the dif-
ficulties were serious enough to constitute a real objection. In
the great majority of cases these thirty-three were opposed to the
entire plan and were inclined to attack every phase of it whether
there was really justification for such attack or not. "Whatever
difficulty there may have been was due largely to the vagueness
and indefiniteness of the statutes, but this defect was remedied by
an act of 1905. 1 To count and record half votes may require a
•Revised Statutes, 1905; Ch. 46, section 54.
little more time to arrive at results than under the ordinary sys-
tem of voting, but beyond tin's inconvenience Hie practical diffi-
culties are so slight that they cannot be considered as any real ob-
With the idea of determining public sentiment on the ques-
tion aud to ascertain if minority representation in its somewhat
crude and limited form Avas regarded sufficiently successful that
the people of the state would approve of a wider application of
the principle, a question was included in the previously
mentioned list asking what advantages, if any, would be
gained by increasing the size of the districts and electing
more than three men from each. Evidently the larger the
districts and the more officials elected from each, the more
opportunity small factions woidd have of being represented
and the more nearly the scheme would approach proportional
representation. Of eighty-eight who replied directly to this
question, three favored the idea of larger districts and eighty-
five disapproved, but it is evident that the answers are of
but little value so far as an expression of opinion regarding pro-
portional representation, is concerned- Apparently none of those
replying considered the wide extension of the principles of pro-
portional representation which such a change would entail and
opposed any such increase in the size of the districts on grounds
of general expediency. The answers are, however, very significant
in indicating how completely the idea of proportional representa-
tion has sunk into desuetude and how completely it has been elim-
inated from the list of live political questions in this country.
In investigating minority representation in Illinois an at-
tempt was made to ascertain what effect, if any, (lie scheme had
on the personnel of the legislature. This is obviously a rather
delicate subject and an exceedingly difficult one to investigate.
The people of the state are familiar with the various legislators,
past and present, and have, in a general way, a knowledge of
their ability, but the quality of men who might have been in the
legislature under some other form of election is an entirely un-
known and indeterminate factor. In the list of questions sent
out the following was included: "Are the candidates nominated
and elected under the present method of better character or of
more ability than would probably be secured under the ordinary
one-member district system?" of the eightyfour who replied to this
question directly, six answered unequivocally iu the affirmative
and twenty-one in the negative, for the most part quite positively.
Thirty-three made the cautious auswer that at least the members
usually secured were no better than would be elected by other
methods, while twenty-four were of the opinion that the method
of election had no effect on the character or ability of members.
Since the question propounded cannot be answered definitely
aud at best is largely one of opinion, the ideas of some of the rep-
resentative citizens of the state on the subject may be interesting.
The conclusions of those interviewed are based on observation
aud experience and their standing in the community is in all cases
such as to entitle their opinion to consideration.
A member of the present legislature says : "I would say iu
general they are probably more representative men." Another
member of the General Assembly declares: "The worst candidate
stands the best chance of election as appreciating the fact that he
is weak the "plumping" is often times overdone to even up the
vote." An editor answers the question succinctly and positively:
"Most assuredly not." A well known Chicago lawyer asserts:
"I believe that the one-member district plan would be in-
finitely preferable in its results both as to character and ability
of the representatives secured. This because it would require
an actual fight before the people for election." Another editor re-
marks: "Undoubtedly no. In proportion as responsibility is divid-
ed men of less character are chosen for public service." A promi-
nent official answers: "No. I believe the present system secures
poorer results in both character and ability than a fiat one-vote
process- I think the cumulative three-vote plan enables an iu-
ferior candidate t * ► be elected in many instances." A Chicago citi-
zen says :"I think the reverse is true, as the men selected arc
willing to hold their offices as the henchmen of the political lead-
ers and are apt to be less independent than tlie men who would
be selected in the ordinary one-member district." A member of
Congress expresses himself as follows: "I do not think the present
system can have any relation to the character and ability of the
candidates. Neither better nor worse candidates are selected on
account of it." Another writer: "Do not think the method
of election would have anything to do with it. The office, not the
man, attracts the candidate." Two members of the present legis-
lature state : "It would probably be the same fellows." "The source
and character of the constituency govern these tilings." Another
citizen is eloquent by what he omits: "This is very hard to an-
swer. We elect our aldermen each election, one from a ward
and * * *" Others say: "I do not think the system affects
the matter of ability. Illinois members compare quite favor-
ably with members from other states." "This is a doubtful
question and perhaps the time will never come under any circum-
stances or system that may be adopted when the best men will
represent the people in the legislature of any state." "No differ-
ence as to character or ability. Only gives a more diversified rep-
As quoted in a preceding section the Electoral Committee held
that: "It (cumulative voting) will increase the usefulness of the
legislature by iijfproving the membership. Tt will enable virtu-
ous citizens to elect the ablest and purest men in their midst and
secure to the legislative councils a large measure of popular con-
fidence and respect." How far this contention has been justified
in popular opinion is indicated by the tabulation given above —
but six out of eighty-four maintaining that any improvement in
the personnel of the legislature has been achieved.
It should be noted in this connection that many of those who
maintain that the personnel of the General Assembly has deterior-
ated because of the cumulative vote ascribe the blame to the per-
nicious system of nominating rather than to the method itself.
The individuals expressing opinions are not altogether fair in
their comparisons between the cumulative vote and the ordinary
method- They are fully aware of the defects of the method used
and compare an actual system and its practical evils with an ideal
conception of the one-vote method, forgetting that the latter leads
to equally bad, if not the same, evils, when put into operation.
Then again, it is the fashion to decry and ridicule all legislative
bodies from municipal councils to the Cougress of the United
States. Creative legislation is a difficult task and when mistakes
are made many self-constituted critics appear and denounce both
statutes and their authors and allowance must be made for this
There are two features, aside from the increased power of the
party machine, which may aid in the election of inferior candi-
dates. It was expected that the voter's privilege of "plumping"
would tend to defeat undesirable men but in fact this has at
times worked out in exactly the opposite way. Practice here
illustrates how easily a reform may be utilized advantageously
by the very people against whom the measure was aimed and the
the "triple-armed voter — the terror of party despotism" seems
to have been reduced to a very harmless terror indeed. As al-
ready mentioned the party ring may exert all its influence to
elect its candidate while an honest nominee may unwittingly aid
his own defeat by asking his party to divide the vote equally be-
tween himself and his ticket-mate. "While such cases may happen
their frequency has undoubtedly been exaggerated. Election sta-
tistics show but comparatively few instances where a candidate
has been defeated by plumping. Even assuming what facts will
not warrant, namely, that all nominees who fail of election are
the very ones that should have been elected, few men have been
kept out of the legisature on this account, who, for the good of the
community, should have been there.
Another circumstance which may affect the personnel of the
legislature is incidental rather than essential to minority repre-
sentation. In this state, if three legislators are to be elected from
a district, the number of these latter must be somewhat limited
and this necessitates the union of two or more counties. This com-
bination leads to jealousies between the counties, each fearing that
it will not get its share of the spoils. When fights of this sort
occur the personality and qualifications of the candidates are'
lost sight of and the only question considered by the voter is
whether or not the nominee is a "home" man. While these county
feuds exist and are sometimes of long standing, it is doubtful if
they produce much effect on the personnel of the legislature. Some
desirable candidates have probably been defeated because of coun-
ty jealousies but it is probably true that just as many undesirable
nominees have failed of election for the same reason and the ac-
ocunt is about balanced.
Many of those expressing their opinion on the subject believe
that the method of election has nothing to do with the character
and ability of the legislators and this seems the reasonable and
logical view. The voters and character of the voters will be the
same regardless of the method of election and, generally speakiug,
elected officials are representative of those from whom they re-
ceive their credentials. This, of course, assumes that the people
really do select their legislators, but with the present system of
nominating party organization wields an immense iufluence and
leaves but little choice to the electorate at large-
While the cumulative vote requires strict party discipline,
the abuse of that discipline does not necessarily follow, but it is
evident that when the innovation was introduced into Illinois it
was not properly safe-guarded. The people of the state have
watched the subversion of their election system and while little
has been done to abolish the cumulative vote by a constitutional
amendment several schemes have been proposed to free it of its
attendant practical evils. A reform which lias been suggested and
championed by at least one rather prominent civic organization is
to compel each party to nominate a full ticket of three candidates.
The object is, of course, to present a considerable number of men
from which the voter may select those he considers best qualified
but the attempt to inaugurate this change without specific statu-
tory authority failed. This method would obviously be a plain vio-
lation of the spirit, if not of the letter, of the constitution if such
a law or custom were followed in good faith. For illustration, we
will assume a district in which the Republican party has a major-
ity. This party would nominate a full ticket and the Democratic
aud other minority parties would do likewise. Since party dis-
affection is the unusual rather than the usual condition, the
result would be ordinarily that each voter would deposit one
vote for each candidate of his party, and the three Republican
nominees would be elected and minority representation practical-
ly abolished. Such practice would give the independent voters
a chance to exercise their discretion but it is only when the occa-
sional wave of civic virtue sweeps over the country that they
become numerous enough to endanger party success. The usual
results of each party having a ticket of three candidates would
be that the majority party would elect all three representatives
at the expense of the minority.
If three men were nominated in good faith by each party, thus
putting a larger number of candidates in the field, of which only
three could be elected, the result would be a hard, bitter fight,
not between parties, but between nominees on the same ticket.
It would be easier for a Republican, for example, to secure one
or one and one-half votes from his colleague than it would to cross
party lines and secure the same from his Democratic opponent.
Parties would be demoralized, cliques and rings would grow
up around certain individuals and campaigns would be waged
not on political issues but personalities. Such a change would in
no way effect the real evil in the case and would only make a bad
In the above it is assumed that in nominating three candi-
dates each party acts in good faith. Every conclusion, however,
that can be drawn from past history or present conditions indi-
cates that such practice would not be conscientiously carried out
by any party nor is it probable that any legislation could accom-
plish the desired result. Taking the example previously given, if
the Democrats only had enough votes to elect one man if they
"plumped" on him, they undoubtedly would "plump." Three
names might appear on the ticket, but it would be made known
that two of them were there to meet technical requirements and
that there was but one real candidate. A rebellious voter might
not vote for that one but if he did not he would be practically
sure that he was wasting his vote.
The basic evil has been the method of nomination. So long
as nominations are made in caucuses or conventions and the num-
ber of candidates rigorously restricted to the number that can
be elected, so long will the cumulative vote be abused and made
the affective tool of the party ring. A reform proposed to remedy
this defect is a direct primary law which, it is hoped, will deal a
death blow to machine domination. The strength of party or-
ganization is well illustrated by the history of the movement for
direct primary. Practically all of those interviewed on the sub-
ject, including a considerable number of members of the present
legislature, were in favor of such a statute, and none expressed
themselves as opposed, yet there was a long, hard fight before an
act of this nature was passed and sustained by the courts.
The portion of the recent act applying to legislative
nominal ions provides for a senatorial committee consisting
of one member from each county in districts of more than
three counties; otherwise three members, all to be chosen
by popular election. Any citizen legally qualified to fill the
office may become a candidate for representative at the pri-
mary and have his name printed on the official ballot by filing a
petition signed by one-half of one per cent of the primary electors
of his party in the district. Because of the easy fulfillment of
the requirements there should be no dearth of candidates. Po-
litical managers, however, did not entirely release their hold on
legislative elections as the principal duty of this senatorial com-
mittee for each party is to determine how many candidates shall
be nominated. As a result, there will probably be no more real
nominees for the legislative positions than there have been in the
An attempt was made to amend the present law so as to allow
the voters to decide for themselves whether each party should
nominate one, two or three candidates for representative. The
amendment was not incorporated in the bill and a loud complaint
was made against "machine'' domination. Whatever may have
been the purpose in delegating to this committee the author-
ity to determine the number of candidates, the power thus
given is really not as important as it might appear. The cu-
mulative voting system, as has been pointed out, requires a defin-
ite means of controlling the number of candidates and this com-
mittee is probably as well qualified to determine this matter as
any that could be devised. If left to the people, possibly at the
first election, the voters, rejoicing in their new-found freedom and
reacting from the prevailing party control, might decide to in-
crease the number of candidates. The confusion and inequalities
resulting would be such that the electorate would soon decide to
do what in all likelihood the present committee will do,
namely, nominate no more candidates than can probably be elect-
ed. It may make excellent political capital for a party to pose as
the advocate of civic reform and a friend of the people by leasing
the whole matter to popular election but so far as results are con-
cerned they Mill be essentially the same in either case.
If the people are allowed to select their candidates by direct
ballot at the primaries it is difficult to see any particular advan-
tage in having a large number of nominees in the field. If a can-
didate receives, or fails to receive, a plurality at the primaries the
probabilities are that he would receive the same proportion of
votes at the final election and results would only be changed by
trades, deals and other political manipulations- In other words,
a direct primary vote should be as accurate an index of popular
sentiment as a regular election and a candidate thus selected
should be as repi-esentative of the people as one who secures a cer-
tificate of election as a result of the final vote. This, of course,
would make the real fight for office at the primary rather than
the final election as the nominee would have the ^advantage
of compelling an aspirant for office to go through but one,
instead of two, more or less expensive and disagreeable campaigns.
If the candidate is required to fight for his place both at the pri-
mary and at the election it will involve such an expenditure of
time and labor that many desirable men will refuse to become
candidates for the office of representative which offers but little
pecuniary reward and sometimes no great honor. The position
would then be left to professional politicians who by some art are
able to make the office pay for the expense incurred in securing it.
Another advantage in having the real contest at the pri-
maries is the fact that they are usually held some time prior to the
final elections. ( In Illinois under the recent act, after the first
year, primaries will be held in April). This removes the local
elections from the turmoil and excitement of the general cam-
paign in the fall and will be especially advantageous in presiden-
tial years as the electorate will be more likely to select a repre-
sentative because of his personal fitness or his views on local is-
sues than because of his opinions on questions relating to tariff or
imperialism. If the real contest for office is thus transferred to
the primaries and the final election is to ratify what has already
been decided, the only advantage of the cumulative vote, since the
practice does not prevail at the primaries according to the recent
law, is that it secures representation for a. minority party in each
district and prevents the tyranny resulting from overwhelming
Summary and Conclusion.
In the preceding discussion it has been shown that the cumu-
lative method in practically all cases secures minority representa-
tion in every legislative district in the state. Considering only the
two main parties, representation is obtained very nearly propor-
tional to the vote cast by each. Parties other than the Republican
and Democratic seldom have more votes in any district than the
weaker of these two main ones and hence elect but few members.
There is, however, a much smaller waste of votes and smaller per-
centage of non-representation than prevails under the ordinary
The evils of gerrymandering are greatly reduced as is indi-
cated by the fact that the vote required to elect a representative
is about the same for either of the two principal parties while
for senators, elected by the majority system from the same dis-
tricts, it requires nearly four times as many Democratic as Re-
publican votes to elect one member.
The minority party does occasionally secure undue represen-
tation as in some instances it has elected two out of three represen-
tatives. Such results, however, occur only in a few cases since ouly
in about two and one-half per cent of the total elections has a mi-
nority elected a majority of legislators from individual districts.
These mishaps may be due to bad management, the majority party
failing to nominate the candidates which it might elect; or they
may be caused by the personal popularity of a candidate; by coun-
ty feuds, where two or more are joined in one district; or by the
party organization fighting valiantly for a candidate whom it
fears may be defeated.
In every case where a party has had a plurality in the state
it has had a plurality in the lower House of the legislature and
the will of the people, as indicated by party vote, has never been
defeated because of an occasional instance of the minority secur-
ing excessive representation in certain districts-
Any system like the cumulative method has inherent quali-
ties which demand strict party discipline. Political leaders of
the state have not been slow to take advantage of this and the
method has been much abused especially in Chicago. The
most noticeable and pernicious evil is the rigorous limitation of
the number of candidates presented by the two principal parties
at each election. Although party control is required by the cumu-
lative method it is doubtful if political bossism in the legislature
up to the present time has been worse in Illinois than in other
states. However, there is this difference : in other states the voters
have some opportunities, if they desire to take advantage of them,
to relieve themselves of this dictation. In Illinois, with the system
of election unguarded as it has been until very recent times, the
electorate has small opportunity to overthrow the "machine" even
if it is so inclined.
The practical difficulties of voting under the cumulative sys-
tem as used in this state are so slight as to constitute no real
The effect of the cumulative method on the personnel of the
legislature is difficult to ascertain definitely, since the character
of legislators who might have been elected to office under some
other plan of selection is entirely indeterminate. The logical
conclusion, however, drawn from comparison, is that the cumula-
tive method has had little effect on the personnel of the Assembly.
The method of voting can, of course, have no influence on the elec-
torate which determines who the representatives shall be. In com-
parison with other states the members of the Illinois legislature
seem to be a fair average, thus again indicating the small effects
which electoral methods have on the character of officials.
Judging from the opinion of representative citizens whose
standing in the community is such that their ideas may be taken
as a criterion, public sentiment is either indifferent or opposed
to minority representation. The scheme has a few warm friends
but many of those expressing opinions think it has produced but
little effect in any direction, while others are squarely opposed,
opposition usually being based on the alleged subversion of the
system by party organization. All are agreed that one of the
principal objects of the introduction of the method, the allaying
of sectional strife, has been accomplished, but this is now an issue
of the past and cannot be advanced as a justification for the pres-
ent existence of minority representation.
The strongest recommendation for the cumulative system is
the fact that at all times it secures representation for. a minor par-
ty, thus insuring a strong minority in the lower House of the Gen-
eral Assembly. The inherent justice of the first mentioned fact will
appeal strongly to civic reformers and is worthy of consideration
when discussing the merits of minority representation. While
the latter makes impossible the tyranny of an overwhelming ma-
jority which is too often inclined to override the minority in a
mere wanton display of power. An ever-present minority also
serves to check the tendency to corruption which almost invariably
follows when one party has for a considerable time a large major-
ity in the legislature. This applies with special force to Illinois
where witli but few exceptions one party has had control of the
state for many years-
The serious objection to the cumulative method is the oppor-
tunity it affords for "machine" control and party bossism. If,
as is hoped, the new primary law will check the abuses of the
party organization and give the people as complete a control of
their legislature as may prevail under the usual majority system
then the merits of the cumulative method will greatly outweigh
the defects and furnish ample justification for its existence. But
if the primary fails in its express object in this particular, the
cumulative system, while its defects are no worse than are found
in the ordinary majority system, has so little practical, positive
merit to recommend it, that it can only be regarded as a complica-
tion which does not at present justify its continued existence.
NUMBERS OF THE UNIVERSITY STUDIES
[Address all communications concerning the Studies to Editor, University
Studies, 305 University Hall, Urbana, 111.]
No. 1. Abraham Lincoln: The Evolution of his Literary Style. By D.
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No. 2. The Decline of the Commerce of the Port of New York. By
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No. 6. Illinois Railway Legislation and Commission Control since 1870.
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No. 9. The Illinois Constitutional Convention of 1862. By O. M. Dicker-
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PUBLICATIONS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS
Following is a partial list of the publications issued at the University:
1. The University Studies. A series of monographs on miscellaneous
subjects. For contents see inside.
Address Editor of University Studies, 305 University Hall.
2. The Journal of English and Germanic Philology. Published quarterly.
Three dollars per year. Address Journal of English and Germanic Philology,
313 University Hall.
3. The Bulletin of the Engineering Experiment Station. A report of
the research work in the Engineering Experiment Station. Address Director of
Engineering Experiment Station, University of Illinois.
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Director of Agricultural Experiment Station, University of Illinois.
5. The Bulletin of the State Laboratory of Natural History. Address
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State Geological Survey, University of Illinois.
7. The Bulletin* of the State Water Survey. Address Director of State
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, 8. Report of the State Entomologist. Address State Entomologist, Uni-
versity of Illinois.
9. The general series, containing the University catalog and circulars of
special departments. Address The Registrar.